This Startup Is 3D-Printing Affordable Homes Made Entirely of Clay

This Startup Is 3D-Printing Affordable Homes Made Entirely of Clay

By Duncan Nielsen
WASP teams up with Mario Cucinella Architects to 3D print eco-friendly homes using locally sourced materials.

Near Bologna, Italy, Mario Cucinella Architects and 3D-printing company WASP are building a new kind of habitat. It’s called TECLA, and it’s a 100% 3D-printed house made of clay harvested at the build site. The zero-waste process utilizes reusable and recyclable materials to produce affordable dwellings—and Cucinella believes that it’s the future of housing.

"Together with WASP, we aim at developing a habitat that responds to the increasingly urgent climate revolution and the needs of changes dictated by community needs," says Cucinella.

TECLA is printed with clay harvested at the build site. The design allows natural light to pour in during the day, reducing reliance on grid and solar power. 

As more homes are built, the plans can be adjusted to accommodate the needs of different residents. 

Since 2012, Italy-based WASP has been developing 3D-printing technology to produce "zero-mile" homes—homes that don’t require material sourced from afar. Now, they’ve started building habitats akin to beehives with on-site clay.

A rendering of a dome dwelling at night shows a sizable skylight situated directly overhead.

The siding of the dome shows multiple layers of clay stacked one on top of the other. The slow, systematic process guarantees resiliency in multiple climates and varying weather conditions. 

"WASP takes inspiration from the potter wasp. We build 3D-printed houses using earth found on the spot, under a sustainable perspective. The oldest material and a state-of-the-art technology merge to give new hope to the world," says WASP CEO Massimo Moretti.

A WASP employee stands near the siding for scale. The company’s printer can create buildings up to 21 feet in diameter and 10 feet in height. 

A cross section shows the pattern the printer follows to optimize the structural integrity of the dome. 

The design is far more eco-friendly than traditional stick-built homes, and it can be replicated in a wide range of climates using locally available resources. Moretti sees the project as the basis for entire cities founded on circular economy principles, wherein resources used to build can be returned safely to the earth. A prototype dwelling is now under construction, and it’s expected to be completed by early 2020.

Several homes can be printed simultaneously using multiple Crane WASP 3D printers.

The architect’s rendering shows an idyllic development of TECLAs. 

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